Thursday, September 05, 2019



It is said, that long before the start of WWI, St. Pius X would be seen walking about the Vatican corridors, praying, and be heard to say under his breath: “I see so much blood and can to nothing to stop it.” The carnage in Europe was already under way when he died on August 20, 1914.

In October of 1958, Edward R. Morrow gave a speech to American radio and television executives in which he stated: ……..our history will be what we make it. If we go on as we are, then history will take its revenge, and retribution will not limp in catching up with us. [1]

Commissioned by the Anglican Church of Canada to look into the issues impacting loss of membership, Pierre Berton, by his own admission a non-believer, did his due diligence and later published the report as a book: The Comfortable Pew, which he ended with: “But there seem to be two ways in which a truly Christian reformation could come about. It could come about through some terrifying persecution of the Christian Church – a persecution that would rid the Church of those of little faith, of the status-seekers and respectability-hunters, of the deadwood who enjoy the club atmosphere, of the ecclesiastical hangers-on and the comfort-searchers. Once the Church becomes the most uncomfortable institution in the community, only those who really matter will stick with it. At this point, one would expect the Church to come back to those basic principles of love, faith, and hope that have made martyrs out of men.” (142-3) [2]

In 1951, Hannah Arendt published her book: The Origins of Totalitarianism, from which these words are applicable not only to the 1960’s but perhaps even more so in 2019:  “Never has our future been more unpredictable, never have we depended so much on political forces that cannot be trusted to follow the rules of common sense and self-interest—forces that look like sheer insanity, if judged by the standards of other centuries. It is as though mankind had divided itself between those who believe in human omnipotence (who think that everything is possible if one knows how to organize masses for it) and those for whom powerlessness has become the major experience of their lives.”  [3]

By 1968 the post Vatican II experimentation with liturgy, outside the clear norms laid down by the Church, was creating chaos, driving people still in shock just from the authentic liturgical changes away from these experimental ersatz events, for that was all they were, while at the same time priests, religious brothers and sisters, monks and nuns, seeking to define commitment in their own image and likeness continued to leave in droves.

At the beginning of the Sixties President Kennedy had famously challenged people not to demand everything from country, aka government, but to ask of themselves what they could do for their country. By 1968, as all the various protest and rights movements became engrained not just in the American, but in Western culture, that was turned on its head and remains so today: citizens of democratic countries have become insatiable as they demand more and more from government and politicians of all stripes, since then and in 2019, know if you want to be elected to the power you salivate over then pander NOT to ordinary people but to the screamers demanding more, more, more.

The quotations cited above are because, as Morrow indicated, we are the makers of our history, wittingly or not, and it is critical to be informed and to note when some speaker, writer, preacher even, utters words which are prescient awareness of where things are headed.

It is to choose to be educated and act on what is learned, as opposed to being a self-mesmerizing, go with the flow person. Not all information educates, indeed in these days of the internet much of it dumbs down God given intelligence. Urgently we need daily to ask the Holy Spirit for His gifts of wisdom and discernment so we, the electorate, return to voting based upon actual issues and not emotional or ‘what’s-in-it-for-me’ self-centredness.

So, it is no surprise that much of Western society and even the most addleheaded stoners, the pie-in-the-sky leftists, by the end of 1968 [in 2019?] could not accept that, no matter how the masses are organized, there is no such thing as human omnipotence.

Granted that illusion of such a possibility lingers among extremists of the left and right to our day for, flowing from the Sixties, what little faith in anything is left in the lives of millions is in science, technology, relativism, nihilism, unbridled consumption and obsession with self – though tragically there are not enough lithium batteries now, nor will there ever be, to power cell phone cameras long enough to take enough pictures of the self for anyone thereby to actually come to know the person whose image they have taken.

At first blush, in early January 1968, it did appear, with the advent of the ‘Prague Spring’, that just maybe before the decade was over some vital changes were going to happen in the lives of oppressed peoples, at least in one country: Czechoslovakia.

A certain measure of reform and freedom did last until August but fearing such a contagion might spread the Soviets, and some Warsaw Pact countries, invaded and crushed the ‘spring’. Shades of the Warsaw uprising and aftermath of WWII. Thousands managed to flee the country for Western Europe and Canada. Those left behind would be under the Soviet boot until the Velvet Revolution of 1989. By 1993 what had been one country became two, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

In Vietnam the battle of Khe Shan began and would drag on until late April. The infamous Tet offensive started as well. This would also be the year of the My Lai massacre of innocent Vietnamese by American troops, showing how the prolonged, brutal conflict was totally out of control. Indeed, those two battles, the My Lai and other massacres by the US troops, were harbingers of what was to come, the eventual take over of the south by the Viet Cong.

The emotional and moral toll, on both American troops and anti-war protestors, was bringing, combined with the ongoing violence in the civil rights struggle, an entire nation to the breaking point, so much so President Johnson announced he would not seek re-election, opening the door to a year of pollical violence and uncertainty, ending with Nixon, of Watergate infamy, eventually becoming president.

Countries as diverse as Mexico, Brazil, Poland, Yugoslavia, were in turmoil with civil unrest, revolutions, while in France, where student unrest was so widespread and violent it led to De Gaulle fleeing the country as his government feared outright civil war. The so-called ‘May 68’ turmoil continues to impact France to this day, and other Western countries share the French secularist obsession, which explains much about continued unrest by the Muslim community in France, and other countries, and has much to do with Islamic terrorism for the secularist, science, technology, sexual-identity, etc. moral turpitude of so many post-Christian countries infecting Islamic youth terrifies the Mullahs and angers the extremists, justifying in their warped minds, terrorism. Another haunting outcome of the Sixties relentless pursuit of rejection of all Christian truth and morals.

The United States, the wounds of the Civil War clearly still gaping, was slipping into greater internal confusion and chaos, exemplified dramatically by first the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, then of Robert Kennedy, and all the ensuing riots, including during the Democratic Convention in Chicago.

Meanwhile Mao Zedong, another example of if only the masses can be controlled, was forcing millions of urban youth away from universities and the cities out into the countryside to be re-educated.

In October police overreaction in Derry to a civil rights march began the inexorable trek of the Northern Ireland events known as “The Troubles”. This violent struggle would eventually subside with the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 but with the Brexit chaos currently unfolding in Great Britain, could unravel if the now non-border between the North and the Republic becomes an actually hard border again when, and if, Britain leaves the EU, cutting of the Republic which itself is an EU member country.

There is an illusion, particularly among hard core so-called ‘populists’ in many countries, among human beings in general, that, there was some period in human history when everything was in right order regarding faith, morals, family, male and female identity, etc., etc.

Reality is that since original sin, while there have been brief periods when a coalescing of ‘faith, family, country’ gave a modicum of peace within and among disparate kingdoms, latterly nation states, they are rare. Mostly human beings are in a greater or lessor degree of conflict with the self and among each other.

The Sixties shows us that attempts to reimage self, other, nation, God into what agrees with, frankly, our impulsive need or want of the moment, triggers waves of disorientation within self and the larger community, waves which like a tsunami sweep through cultures, religions, nations, people’s lives, leaving nothing but destruction in their wake and stunned survivors having to pick themselves up out of the rubble and strive to begin anew.

Unless this beginning, for Christians who are called to be salt of the earth and light of the world, {cf. Mt. 5:13-16}, is Christocentric then, as we see in our own day, with the secularization of virtually every aspect of society in the Western world in particular, we will continue to blithely live on the quicksand of loss of moral foundations.

The very solid ground we need to build nation, family, faith, indeed self upon is Jesus Christ and His Gospel of Life.

As St. Paul urges: …..we earnestly ask and exhort you in the Lord Jesus that, as you received from us how you should conduct yourselves to please God—and as you are conducting yourselves—you do so even more. For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. This is the will of God, your holiness: that you refrain from immorality………For God did not call us to impurity but to holiness…….Therefore, whoever disregards this, disregards not a human being but God, who also gives  His Holy Spirit to you. [1Thess.1-3 &8]

The following hymn, found in many hymnals, is used as the opening hymn for Vespers of the  22nd week of Ordinary Time. Given the heaviness of looking into the Sixties it is important to have words of hope:  Now fades all earthly splendor, the shades of night descend; the dying of the daylight foretells creation's end. Though noon gives place to sunset, yet dark gives place to light: The promise of tomorrow with dawn's new hope is bright. The silver notes of morning will greet the rising sun, as once the Easter glory shone round the Risen One. So will the night of dying give peace to heaven's day and hope of heaven's vision will light our pilgrim way. So will the new creation rise from the old reborn to splendour in Christ's glory and everlasting morn. All darkness will be ended as faith gives place to sight of Father, Son and Spirit, One God, in heaven's light. [4]


[2] citation from:



© 2019 Fr. Arthur Joseph

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